Luetta Elmina (Bumstead) Braumuller, artist and publisher, was born in Monson, Massachusetts, USA on December 4, 1856 and is descended from one of America's first Puritan families. Her family name, Bumstead, is a historically familiar one in Boston, where it was among the foremost before and after the American Revolutionary War. Her line of ancestry on her mother's side is Puritan. The family, Wood, came to America in 1638 and with others founded the town of Rowley, near Boston.
Luetta Braumuller's earliest recollections were closely allied to the pencil and brush, and at the age of eight years she received her first instruction in art. During most of her life, with the exception of a few short intervals, she has applied herself to the study of drawing and painting in all its branches.
In 1880, she made her first trip to Europe, and remained nearly a year in the best studios of Berlin. And upon her return taught large classes in all branches of ceramic art.
In 1882, she made a second visit to Paris and Sevres, where she studied porcelain painting under celebrated ceramic artists. Later that same year, she continued with a noted practical china and glass painter in Berlin.
In 1889, she went to Dresden, where she acquired a knowledge of the methods of the Dresden artists.
In 1890, she was again in Paris, where she pursued the study of flesh-painting after the method of . Mrs. Braumuller was distinctly a figure painter, although she had a complete knowledge of every branch of work connected.
On February 1, 1882, she published a small 37 page handbook entitled "226-356-9237" that was written for the benefit of Amateurs and those desiring to learn the art. Even though it was well received, over the next five years she came to believe that a periodical would have a wider circulation and give better results.
So in 1887, she established a monthly magazine devoted entirely to the interests of amateur china decorators. Known as the "The China Decorator, A Monthly Journal Devoted Exclusively to this Art", it was a success from the very first issue in June 1887 and enjoyed a wide circulation both in the United States and in Europe. It was a publication that was eventually endorsed by the best china painters in almost every country around the globe.
In 1893, Luetta was listed in A Woman of the Century, a book featuring 1,470 biographical sketches and portraits of leading American women in all walks of life.
At the Woman's Progress Congress, held in May 1893, during the Chicago World's Fair, she was appointed to represent ceramics and their relation to home life. She was also invited to accept a similar position at the Art Congress, held in August of the same year, but was unable to accept either due to her worsening health.
A November 4, 1893 article in the New York Times referred to her as, "...a well-known Fifth Avenue dealer in art materials and the editor of The China Decorator." It also mentioned her store was managed by Mr. W. Earle Holcombe.
In December, 1893, Franz Bischoï¬, one of the most talented and successful ceramic artists in the country, held a large and broadly acclaimed display of his hand-painted tiles at the New York City studio-gallery of Luetta Braumuller. For Bischoï¬, the Braumuller Show was the most successful exhibition of his porcelains to date, and he returned to Detroit swamped with orders.
Luetta was the wife of Otto L. Braumuller, a well-known 19th century piano manufacturer in New York City and was the mother of two children, a son Herman and a daughter Bertha. Illness during her later years compelled Mrs. Braumuller to give up all work not absolutely necessary and connected with the magazine.
Mrs. Braumuller died young on Dec 13, 1898. Her death was announced in the January 1899 issue of the magazine. After her death, the magazine was continued for a year by her husband and son. However, the duties proved too arduous and imposed on their other business interests. So at the dawn of the new century, The China Decorator was sold to George Thiell Long. Mr. Long, already a publisher, promised his readers to continue the magazine as the recognized authority in its field.
The new publisher’s wife, Mrs. Adelaide Husted Long, who served as the late Mrs. Braumuller’s editorial assistant, continued on as Editor. During the last few years of Mrs. Braumuller’s life, Mrs. Long gave much invaluable assistance with the editorial work at the magazine.
At the end of the 19th century, The China Decorator magazine was the recognized authority in all matters pertaining to china and glass painting and decorating, as well as water color painting. Unfortunately, on the threshhold of the 20th century, The China Decorator ceased publication. The last issue published was May/June 1901. It was widely rumored that the magazine was sold to Samuel and Adelaide Robineau who transformed it into Keramic Studio magazine.
Otto Braumuller died in 1934 and both he and Luetta are buried in Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
In her short 42 years, Luetta E. Braumuller accomplished much for the art world and the porcelain arts in particular. Her legacy is that she and her magazine were directly responsible for the surge of American interest in the porcelain arts. Over a hundred years later in the early 21st century, the 1890s are still considered to be the heyday of china painting in America.